UFCW 1518 is calling on BC’s largest grocery chains to grant their workers a statutory holiday on September 30 in recognition of Truth and Reconciliation Day.
In July, the federal government created a federal holiday that recognizes the dark legacy of settler colonialism in Canada. The day is an opportunity to reflect on the impacts of the residential school system on Indigenous Canadians. Federal government workers will have a paid day off on September 30.
UFCW 1518 sent letters to Save-On-Foods President Darrell Jones and Sobeys CEO Michael Medline asking that the companies recognize the statutory holiday. Both companies responded that they will be endorsing a range of initiatives in recognition of what they refer to as “Orange Shirt Day,” but will not offer their workers a paid holiday.
“It’s disappointing that these companies will not take stronger action for truth and reconciliation,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “Save-On-Foods and Sobeys operate on unceded territories and have many Indigenous, First Nations, and Métis employees. Many of these workers went through the residential school system or have family and friends that did, and they deserve a paid day off to mourn and heal.”
The government of British Columbia has also offered all provincial public-sector employees a paid day off on September 30. They have not, however, recognized the day as a public provincial statutory holiday for all workers.
Recently, many UFCW 1518 members took part in a Human Rights Week event dedicated to putting truth and reconciliation at the heart of the union’s activities. As part of the commitments stemming from this event, the union is also calling on the provincial government to make Truth and Reconciliation Day a permanent provincial statutory holiday.
UFCW Local 1518 represents more than 26,000 members working in the community health, hospitality, retail, cannabis, industrial, and professional sectors across British Columbia. The union operates on the traditional and unceded territory of the Qayqayt First Nation.
Some businesses have already announced that they will recognize the statutory holiday, including:
- Clarity Cannabis
- Ucluelet Co-Op
- Mid-Island Co-Op
- Lifestyle Markets
- First United Church
- Mackenzie Co-Op